Following Louisville’s overtime loss to Kentucky on Saturday night, head coach Chris Mack was not bashful in giving credit where credit was due regarding UK’s top two performers: Tyrese Maxey and Nick Richards.
Mack said he knew going into the game that Maxey, who managed a career-high 27 points, was going to give his team fits as a pure scorer.
“He’s good. We knew that coming in,” Mack said of the Kentucky star freshman. “You know, he’s an explosive scorer. A lot of scorers, sometimes they take difficult shots. But at the same time, we knew he was going to take them. Guys like that don’t lose their confidence easily. He is just a challenge.”
Mack said his team gave him far too many open looks, and Maxey found a way to capitalize.
“A couple of the threes he hit, we didn’t do a good enough job in transition of getting back and getting matched up,” he said. “You can’t play, in my opinion—at least my team can’t, maybe other teams can—an open court game with Kentucky and feel like you’re going to be the victor. So, we did a much better job of boxing them in in the half-court and playing half-court basketball. He’s good. And his pull-up game, his ability to make threes today was better than it’s been. But we knew what he was capable of.”
Louisville forward Dwayne Sutton said the Cardinals struggled to pressure Maxey and make him feel uncomfortable. As a result, the Kentucky freshman torched the nets for 27 points.
“He played tough,” Sutton said. “I think he had 27 (points). We knew he was capable of doing that, but we didn’t do a good enough job of chasing him off screens and making him play uncomfortable. He’s also a big reason why they ended up winning.”
As for Richards, who finished with 13 points and ten rebounds – including several clutch baskets and free throws in overtime – Mack said he was a force down low due to his overwhelming size.
“He’s good, and he is big as hell,” Mack said. “You don’t see that size very often, and he stood next to Steve (Enoch). Steve is a couple of inches shorter. But I thought Steve played his tail off. I thought he got a deep-post position, and we went to him. He tied the game up, took the lead a couple of times, if my memory serves correct. We were trying to go him, and I know 17 shots is an awful lot for Steve, but you know, outside of a few plays he made, I thought he did the job today. He did what he needed to do. You know, Nick Richards is a good player, we tried to go at him as much as we could, and we give credit for how talented he is.”
Louisville center Steven Enoch doubled-down on Mack’s praise of Richards, calling him an “animal on the glass” and credited the 7-foot center for making life difficult for the UofL frontcourt.
“Credit to him,” Enoch said. “He’s an animal on the glass and we didn’t do as good of a job as we could’ve of boxing him out, because that’s where a lot of his opportunities came from. Other than that, I feel like he did what he’s capable of. We just have to do a better job next time around.”